Abu Dhabi / WAM
The UAE’s Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) on Wednesday hosted a seminar to discuss the 2011 nuclear accident at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station and the steps taken by the UAE entities to prevent a similar event from happening at the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant, now under construction in the Western Region of Abu Dhabi.
Participants of seminar on the “IAEA Report on the Accident at Fukushima Daiichi” received a briefing from a senior official of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which recently completed a comprehensive report on the accident.
Gustavo Caruso, director of the IAEA Office of Safety and Security Coordination, described the report’s assessment of the accident’s causes and consequences, the post-accident recovery period, and the IAEA response to the crisis.
The seminar also included presentations by FANR and the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) describing the lessons learned from the Fukushima accident and how the two agencies have moved to address those lessons. The FANR presentation was delivered by Deputy Director General for Operations Ian Grant, and ENEC was represented by Mohamed Sabaan, Head of Probability Risk
Assessment Application, Nuclear Risk Management.
“The Fukushima accident showed that we can never become complacent when we are using nuclear energy, and we must constantly strive to improve our strategies and tactics to maximize nuclear safety and security,” said Viktorsson. “To reduce the risks of complacency, FANR works to be as transparent as possible so that our key stakeholders — such as members of the public and relevant government agencies – can watch us and suggest improvements.”
About 85 representatives of UAE agencies attended the seminar, including officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Health, the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority, and the National Emergency Crisis and
Disasters Management Authority.
In March 2011, an enormous earthquake struck off the northeastern coast of Japan creating a tsunami over 14 metres high that swept over key areas of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. The subsequent cut in electricity at the power plant and the consequent loss of reactor cooling capability caused fuel to melt in three reactors and the uncontrolled release of radioactive materials into the surrounding area.
At that time, FANR had recently begun to evaluate the first Construction License Application (CLA) it had received from the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) to build new reactors at the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant, in the Western Region of Abu Dhabi.
To learn from the Japanese accident, FANR established a Fukushima Task Force to follow and engage in activities of other regulatory bodies and international organisations, such as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group (ENSREG), the Nuclear Energy Agency of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD NEA), the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Korea’s Nuclear Safety and Security Commission, and the Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety.
FANR successfully completed assessments of the UAE’s nuclear safety standards and determined that they sufficiently covered the possibility of unexpected extreme events.
FANR also asked ENEC to conduct a detailed assessment of the Barakah facility using a “stress test” methodology and asked ENEC to report on the assessment results and identify any planned safety improvements. ENEC completed the assessment, reported the results to FANR and proposed a number of design enhancements to protect the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant from extreme events.
FANR’s review of those proposed enhancements concluded that ENEC had addressed key robustness issues in its design plans, and FANR granted the construction license for Reactor Units 1 and 2 in July 2012 and for Units 3 and 4 in 2014. As a condition of the construction licenses, ENEC is required to receive approval of the specific design enhancements prior to implementation in the construction.
FANR has reviewed and approved all of the design enhancements for Units 1 and 2 and is currently reviewing similar designs for Units 3 and 4. Since construction began at the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant, FANR has conducted a rigorous inspection programme to ensure that the reactors are built in compliance with all safety and security regulations.